WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Though many businesses have struggled during the pandemic, gun sales and permits have skyrocketed since March.
In July of last year, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office issued 189 pistol permits. This July that number leaped to over 2,000, and some conceal carry classes have tripled in size.
But no matter how you look at it, guns, especially during this election season, are a divisive issue.
“I believe that, not only is it for my protection but for others,” says Douglas Maltba, a gun owner. “So, no matter what the situation may be, if I were to have that, I’d rather have it than not.”
“So we’re buying more guns to solve the problem of guns. Good formula. Good formula for success,” says Don Arabian, chair of the Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence Group.
But why are we seeing such an increase?
Justin King from Bullzeye Shooting Sports remembers,”At the onset, everybody was worried about protecting themselves with the pandemic that started around March.”
“I mean, obviously with the riots and the unrest, people are honestly afraid,” admits Mary Anne Peter, a conceal carry instructor.
And Maltba thinks the skyrocket is related to politics: “The political state definitely is a factor because you know, because people don’t know what can come with the next election possibly.”
And to some, those factors add up, and a conceal carry permit is one way to address them.
Peters says if that’s how you feel, it’s important to take gun safety seriously.
“Four basics,” Peter recites, “Always treat every fire arm as if it’s loaded. Always keep your fingers straight and off the trigger. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. And always know what your target is and what’s beyond it.”
But some are skeptical, worried that best case scenario:conceal carry is unnecessary, and worst:it can worsen an already tense environment.
“I’m not personally, sure that a gun is necessarily the solution that people think it will be in terms of protecting themselves or others,” continues Arabian, a gun owner. “Particularly when they take it outside the home.”
Becky Ceartas, the executive director of NC Against Gun Violence shared a study: “In fact an FBI study of 160 active shooter situations found that only one was stopped by someone who was concealed carry. A Marine. Where as 21 were stopped by unarmed civilians. So we simply don’t need more guns carried in public places.”
But if there’s one thing both sides can agree on, it’s the importance of keeping each other safe.
“Never point your firearm at something you don’t intend to destroy,” stresses Peter.
“We can all come together and agree that we need to prevent gun violence. Whether it’s suicides, or homicides, or accidental shootings, or mass shootings…here in North Carolina we want to make it a safe place to live and work,” Ceartas emphasizes.